1 Agricultural Advisory Service in Denmark International Adviser Henry Joergensen, Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre This paper gives an overview of the unique agricultural advisory service in Denmark. The service is a grassroots system, jointly managed and owned by the association Danish Farmers, which represents around 95% of the farmers in Denmark. Today the service consists of 60 local advisory centres and a national centre (DAAC). The total staff is nearly 3,500 and the turnover amounts to more than 180 million per year. The market share is around 80%. Over the following years the agricultural advisory service will develop according to Danish farmers needs, as it has done over the last 110 years. 1. General Information In order to have an understanding of the agricultural advisory service in Denmark, some general information about the country and the agriculture in Denmark will be provided below. 1.1 General information about Denmark Denmark has a population of 5.33 million and the size of the country is 43 thousand square kilometres (this means that Poland is approximately 8 times as big as Denmark). Most of the country, approx. 65%, is under cultivation and the land is characterised by fertile clayish or sandy moraine landscapes. The climate is temperate, and precipitation is sufficient to provide all the water needed. It is a distinctly low-lying country, the highest point being only 173 metres above sea level, but the landscape is undulating and varied; it is only occasionally possible to find undisturbed nature and everywhere the landscape shows signs of human activity.
2 Eighty-five percent of the population live in towns. Both agriculture and industry are highly effective. Agriculture and fisheries employ only 4%, and industry and construction 24% of the population. The remaining 72% are employed in the service sector, 31% of them in the public sector and 41% in private business, including the traditional shipping trade. Denmark is a Member State of the European Union. 1.2 The agricultural sector in Denmark There are 51,600 farms in Denmark producing food for 3 times the Danish population. Over the last 35 years, many farms merged and as a result the number of farms has decreased dramatically, which can be seen in Table 1. Table 1. Number of farms in Denmark Year Number of farms , , , ,600 Source: The Danish Agricultural Council, Tal om landbruget (English: Facts and figures. Agriculture in Denmark), 2002 Nearly all farms are family farms owned by the farmer. On most farms, the labour force is the farmer and a hired worker. The wife will normally have a full time job and only help on the farm with some specific tasks (as for example bookkeeping) and in busy seasons. The farms are highly specialised. Over the last 35 years, the specialisation has become more common, as can be seen in Table 2 (although farms with animals have enough land to efficiently utilise the nutrients contained in manure). Table 2. Specialisation of Danish farms Type Year 1968 Year 2001 Farms with crop production only 9.8 % 41.8 % (no cattle and pigs) Farms with crops and pigs (no cattle) 10.7 % 16.3 % Farms with crops and cattle (no pigs) 5.0 % 34.0 % Farms with both cattle and pigs 74.5 % 7.9 % Source: The Danish Agricultural Council, Tal om landbruget (English: Facts and figures. Agriculture in Denmark), 2002 Nearly 7% of Danish farms are specialised in organic production.
3 Photo: A typical Danish farm specialised in animal husbandry Many of the farms with crop production only are part time farms belonging to people who work in the city. On part time farms the income from agriculture is an important part of the family s economy, although not sufficient to cover the living expenses of the family. Some figures on the full time farms are shown in Table 3. Table 3. Figures on specialised full time farms in Denmark Type of specialisation Number of holdings in Denmark Average size Number of animals Value of assets on the farm (total) Crop production 4, ha 1.85 MEUR Dairy farms 9, ha 63 dairy cows 1.28 MEUR Pig farms 6, ha 161 sows 1.72 MEUR 1,450 fatteners Total 21, Note: In addition there are full time farms with other specialization, especially poultry and fur farms. Source: The Danish Research Institute of Food Economics, Agricultural account statistics 2001, series A, No 86. Copenhagen 2002.
4 There are big differences between farms in efficiency and economy. This can for example be illustrated by the profit obtained on farms specialised in crop production. The 25 % most unprofitable farmers lost more than 28,000 in 2001, while the 25% most profitable had a profit exceeding 78, Agricultural advisory service in Denmark The agricultural advisory service has to serve all farmers in Denmark: full time farmers as well as part time farmers, farmers specialising in the different productions, the efficient farmers as well as the less efficient ones, and the farmers with a huge profit as well as those with huge losses. The farmer should always be able to get useful knowledge, whether he is a young farmer enlarging the farm or an older person thinking of going out of business. 2.1 The objective of agricultural advisory service in Denmark The service is impartial with respect to both commercial and political interests and therefore does not promote any commercial products or policies of any specific political parties. The agricultural advisory service aims to be an attractive supplier and partner for all Danish farmers. The overall objective of the advisory service is to provide the individual farmer with the best professional and holistic advising. An interpretation of this is given in the following Advice to the individual farmer. Farms and farmers are different and therefore need different advises and recommendations. For example: A dairy farm with 45 cows needs other type of milking equipment and feeding technology than a farm with 150 cows. A farmer with low debts can afford to run a higher risk than a farmer with lot of debts (for example in the selection of crops for the crop rotation). And a farmer who has problems with low efficiency might have to avoid some high-tech solutions that other farmers can implement (because low efficiency is often caused by bad management. Introducing new technology requires good management; therefore bad managers should avoid technologies requiring a high level of management). This means that the advisers have to give specific and targeted advice to the farmer basing on his actual situation (for example actual efficiency, actual size of the farm, the actual machinery and herd, quality of soil and actual financial basis). All the proposed advice has therefore to be evaluated and analysed by the adviser from this viewpoint The best professional advice The advisers are highly specialised and have an extensive updated knowledge of their subjects. Therefore they have to give the perfect advice according to the newest experience and information. It is the intention that all advisers can give their advice basing on better general information than the farmers can obtain. The farmers are highly skilled and therefore the advisers should be able to discuss and evaluate several alternative solutions with the farmers and point out both problems and advantages of each option The holistic view The advisers should be able to evaluate the different solutions in the holistic view, i.e. by taking into consideration the entire farm. If for example the farmer is asking for advice on how to obtain subsidy for investment in a new cow barn, the adviser should be able to tell the farmer that the this is not profitable and therefore the planned investment should not be made at the farm. Or maybe the adviser and the farmer should evaluate all proposed investments on the farm in order to make some priorities of which investments should be taken up first.
5 2.2. The structure of the agricultural advisory service in Denmark The Danish Agricultural Advisory Service is organised as a two level system, i.e. it consists of a network of 60 local advisory centres serving the farmers and a national centre (The Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre), which serves the local centres and their advisers. The total staff in the advisory service is around 3,500. The advisory service is owned by DANISH FARMERS (an association of Danish farmers with the total 48,000 farmers as members and additionally almost 20,000 other members). The advisory service has developed over the last 110 years. In the beginning some of the advisers were specialised in dairy production while others covered all subjects and worked from home. Then they got specialised in animal husbandry (later divided into advisers specialised in cattle, pigs, poultry etc), crop production, machinery, and economy (later specialised in tax and farm management). In the 1960s the individual advisers moved from their office at home to offices at newly-established local advisory centres, where they could work together with their colleagues. In the 1970s the national centre was established in order to support the advisers and the advisory centres. The structure today is a result of this development going on over the last 110 years its description in more detail follows Subjects Today the agricultural advisory service is organised in the following subject areas: Accounting and Farm Management (including agricultural law) Cattle Husbandry Farm Buildings and Machineries Fur Animal Production Horse Breeding Organic Farming Pig Production Plant Production Poultry Production The idea is that the farmer should be able to get all the information, service and advice he needs for his farm 1 from his local advisory centre. However, as the requirements on specialised advisers are growing and the farmers have to cover the costs through user fees, the centres now co-operate on supplying specialised services that can not be offered in an efficient way by all of the 60 centres. Nearly all of the 60 local advisory centres supply services in plant production as well as accounting and farm management, while the number of other subjects covered by each centre depends the number of farmers who need different services and on agreements between the centres on how the specialisations should be allocated between them. 1 However, veterinarians are not members of the advisory service, which is why the farmer cannot get any help in this field from the agricultural advisory service
6 In the area of crop production, the farmers can for example get information on which varieties of different seeds to use; information on plant diseases and weed (including type and concentration of chemicals to use); recommendations as to different technologies (including the right time for the different field operations); proposals for crop rotation and fertilising plans. In addition, green accounts are elaborated in order to have an overview of efficiency in the use of resources on the farm (especially N, P and K). Over the last 10 years, it has been a big challenge to assist the farmers in obtaining EU subsidies for crop production. In the field of accounting and farm management, the farmers can have their bookkeeping done by the advisory service; the offer also includes elaboration of VAT and tax accounts for the authorities, accounts for FADN statistics, budgets, overall evaluation of the economy (including evaluation of the economy in different branches), advice on financial management (including investment planning) and strategic management. Special startup advice is given to young newly-established farmers and farmers who consider retirement get advice on the best way of getting out of business. The farmers can contact the advisory service in a number of ways. The advisers normally have the telephone service for farmers to call and present their problems. Minor problems are handled immediately over the phone, while for bigger ones, a meeting will be arranged to solve the problem. Normally, the advisers go to the farm and discuss with the farmer in the barns / fields or around the kitchen table. In addition, the advisers arrange fields visits, farmers meetings for exchange of experiences, distribution of newsletters (by telephone, mail or on the internet, what is most appropriate), courses and seminars. Photo. The adviser talking with the farmer.
7 Organisation The advisers at the 60 local advisory centres need tools and access to information in order to serve the farmers. These are developed and gathered at the national level by the Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre and then distributed to the local advisory centres. The organisation is shown in the following figure, although it is important to remember that the farmers are also the owners of the advisory service and thus appoint the board of both their local advisory centre and the Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre. In addition to the board of directors there are also committees of farmers for each of the subjects mentioned earlier (accounting and farm management, cattle husbandry, pig production, plant production etc.), where ideas and development of the advisory service is discussed.
8 2.2.3 Tasks of DAAC The work and tasks of the local advisory centres have been described earlier in this paper. It is the needs and demands of the local advisory centres that determine the actual activities at DAAC. In two ways it is secured that DAAC only carries out activities that are demanded by the local centres. First, all development activities are evaluated by user groups consisting of advisers from local centres as well as farmers. Second, the local centres have to purchase services from DAAC and of course they only pay for what is needed. It is not possible to give a detailed description of all activities undertaken within DAAC; however, the main tasks are described below 2. Special advice Providing expert knowledge to the locally employed advisers is the core service for DAAC. This includes the recent knowledge from research and studies as well as the knowledge on rules and regulations in the different areas as crop production, animal husbandry and farm accounting and management (especially rules on taxation and VAT). The experts at DAAC can answer questions from local advisers by phone or mail. 2 For a more detailed description, please see Annex 1
9 DAAC has strengthened this area through the establishment of "RegelInfo" (RuleInfo) in the DAAC-managed agricultural database "LandbrugsInfo" (FarmInfo) which is accessed by the advisers via the Internet. Distribution of know how DAAC distributes knowledge and know how to local advisers. This is done systematically according to the individual advisers need for information, as the advisers subscribe to different newsletters (all distributed by ). All advisers can access the DAAC database where all information is placed so as to make it easy to find and use. Knowledge is also communicated through meetings, seminars, pamphlets, annual reports, special reports, handbooks and CD ROMs as e.g. Agrimach which contains data on about 40,000 farm machines. The employees write articles for the agricultural magazines, participate in experience exchange groups, hold meetings and give lectures at local farmers' organisations etc. Development DAAC develops working methods, advisory tools (forms, calculations and presentations of individual information) as well as computer programmes used by the advisers. The development work carried out at the Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre is targeted at both the advisory service and the farms. So the advisers and the farmers get a comprehensive, professional and efficient basis to develop the individual farms. An example is the development of specific computer software: Bedriftsløsning (in English: INTEGRATED FARM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM) is the name of a comprehensive computer programme for production management on farms. Development of new breeding programmes, housing systems and advisory methods are other examples. Experiments and studies In different fields experiments are carried out in order to gain experience to be shared with advisers and farmers. A few examples of these are given here. In crop production, 2,000 local field experiments are carried out in close cooperation with farmers and local advisory centres. They provide information on the yield of different plant varieties and their need for plant protection and fertilisation in relation to variations in soil types and climates, for example. The results are available immediately after the growing season so that the experience can be used the following year. In the field of farm buildings and machinery, farm tests are carried out among the users of different types of tillage equipment, barn equipment and farm biogas systems etc. Within a project called "Model Farms", we collect production data from about 60 farms to be used for analyses and research. Education and in-service training DAAC plans the education and training courses for advisers, and also organises professional seminars, excursions and experience exchange groups. In addition, DAAC puts out a comprehensive production of textbooks and teaching materials for the basic education of farmers. The publishing section has so far published about 50 textbooks for the basic education of farmers, and it prepares teaching material as well. Maintenance and service tasks The Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre handles many different service tasks for the advisory service collectively, including current warnings of plant pests in the growth season via the Internet,
10 milk yield recording of dairy cows, herdbook keeping and eartag administration for several livestock breeds, as well as potato seed control and export certificates Staff of the agricultural advisory service in Denmark. The total staff of the agricultural advisory service in Denmark is nearly 3,500. Of these, around 3,250 serve the farmers directly with advice and services in the different fields described in section 2.2.2, while the remaining are taking care of supporting functions as for example management of the centres, marketing, computer support (including management and support of networks), human resource development, information (including production of magazines and publications). The specialisation of advisers and assistants is shown in the following tables Advisers Assistants Accounting and management 380 1,800 Cattle husbandry Farm buildings and machineries Pig production Plant production Other fields Total 1,000 2,250 Advisers normally have the educational level of Master of Science, while assistants are educated at business colleges (assistants in accounting and management) or agricultural colleges (assistants working in the other subjects mentioned in the table) Economy of the advisory service Each of the 60 different local advisory centres as well as DAAC are independent non-profit units, with their own economy and financial accounts. By this organisation the advisory service is forced immediately to react to changes in the market conditions. In the year 2001 the total turnover in the advisory service was DKK 1,359 million ( 183 million). The farmers paid about 80% of this amount, 9 % was accounted for by state subsidies, and the remaining income was generated by development activities and projects undertaken by DAAC. Most of the income in the local agricultural advisory centres is generated from bookkeeping and the elaboration of farm accounts (especially VAT accounts and accounts for taxation). The money flow in the advisory service is shown in the following diagram.
11 The local advisory centres decide on the level of service they want to get from DAAC and of course they pay for all the services they use. Secured this way is a specific market economy in the advisory service, so DAAC only develops services that are in demand. The services of the local advisory centres are offered to farmers on market conditions and in competition with other service providers such as private accountants and advisers working at supply companies. The main incentive for the farmers to chose advisers from the advisory service is that these advisers are impartial compared with advisers working for supply companies (the latter might be called salesmen) 3.0 Challenges for the advisory service in the following years The main challenges for the agricultural advisory service in Denmark over the following years will be caused by developments in the agricultural structure, especially by reduction in the number of full time farmers and by growing specialisation of farms. As a result of reduction in the number of full time farms, there will be fewer farmers to pay for the service in the future. And as a farmer with 160 cows does not purchase 4 times more advice than a farmer with 40 cows, the number of advisers and local advisory centres will have to be reduced. At the same time there will be fewer farmers to pay for the basis of the advisory service, as for example the elaboration of basic information at DAAC and the development advisory tools (as for example computer programmes). Therefore DAAC will also come under pressure in order to produce its products and services cheaper.
12 At the same time the farmers will become more specialised and professional. The farmers also can obtain information from other sources, including international databases on the Internet. Therefore the farmers will require a higher level of competence from their adviser, i.e. the advisers have to get more specialised in order to be able to meet the farmers demands. The full time farms will become big units with several employees and a huge flow of goods and money; thus a demand for new type of advice will increase (for example management planning, human resource development, financial & business planning, supply chain management etc.). Interestingly enough, there will still be a large number of part time farms, where the farmer needs advice that is cheap and not so sophisticated. Therefore the advisory service will over the coming years develop in the following directions: The number of local advisory centre will be adjusted to the actual needs on the market. The advisers will get more specialised (in some fields, there will only be a few advisers covering the whole country, for example in the production of beef cattle, poultry and potatoes). There will be more delegation of tasks and co-operation between advisers. The advisory service will be professionalised by introduction of management systems from other business areas, as for example quality management, service management, Customer Relation Management etc. The agricultural advisory service will be more internationalised by establishing contacts and relations to agricultural advisers and researchers in other countries.
13 Literature: 1. Annual report DAAC. The publication can be found at: 2. Dansk Landbrugsrådgivning. Beslutningsgrundlag af 8. Januar (English: Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, Internal presentation to the board on the future structure, 8 January The presentation is in Danish). 3. Priser og honorarer ved Landbrugets Raagivningscenter, Skejby, January (English: Prices and fees at the Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre, internal note). Comment: the materials is only in Danish. 4. Landbrugsregnskabsstatistik 2001, Serie A, nr. 86, Fødevareøkonomisk Institut, København (In English: Agricultural account statistics 2001, series A, No 86. The Danish Research Institute of Food Economics. Copenhagen 2002). ISSN: Comment: The publication is in Danish and includes a summary in English. 5. National departments within DAAC. 6. Raadgivernyt, forskellige numre, aargang 2002 (English: Magazine for agricultural advisers vol. 2002). 7. Tal om landbruget, Landbrugsraadet, In English: Facts and figures. Agriculture in Denmark, The Danish Agricultural Council Comment: The publication is in Danish, although also available in English. The latest English version is from 2001 and can be found at: 8. The Danish Model, DAAC (The publication is in English). 9. we put knowledge into work. Presentation of DAAC. The publication can be found at 10. Who are we? Presentation of DAAC. The publication can be found at: 11. Aarsnyt Det driftsoekonomiske arbejde, Aarsberetning, Skejby, November 2001 (English: Annual report fof the department on farm management and accounting). Comment: Only in Danish.
14 Annex 1. Tasks of DAAC Special advice Special advice is the "core service" provided to the locally employed advisers. It comprises advice on for instance what grain variety to choose, on roughage production and, last but not least, on fertilisation and reduced pesticide input so that the farmers can earn a satisfactory income and simultaneously live up to the politically defined environmental targets. Much special advice in relation to animal production is focused on disease prevention, nutrition, production systems and farm management. Interdisciplinary advice on cooperation in the fields of economy and technology is also the focus. Preparation of breeding programmes and economic advice on specialised production are other examples. Special advice on farm accounting and management is primarily concerned with investment and financing and the interpretation of tax regulations, but also with the long-term objective of the farming family's production on the farm and with new ways of organisation, e.g. collective farming. Special advice may also deal with: requirements to be met to obtain a loan designed for young farmers; subsidies obtainable when introducing more environment-friendly farming systems; requirements to be met by part-time farmers to obtain unemployment benefit; conversion to organic farming. Rules and regulations change along with the changes in what the public wants and demands from the farmers. The knowledge of farmers' advisers must be updated quickly so that they can communicate and interpret new requirements put on the farmers by the authorities. We have strengthened this area through the establishment of "RegelInfo" (RuleInfo) in our agricultural database "LandbrugsInfo" (FarmInfo) which is accessed by the advisers via the Internet. Distribution of knowhow Professional knowledge must be communicated to the farmers as soon as possible so that it can be utilised. The staff of the local advisory centres are typically contacted for advice by phone and increasingly also via the leading Danish agricultural database "LandbrugsInfo", which became operational in All advisers can access the database which replaces the 60 information series so far published on paper. Communication of knowledge via the Internet has top priority and will include visualisation of professional information so that the Internet can be used interactively. Knowledge can be communicated through meetings, seminars, pamphlets, annual reports, special reports, handbooks and CD ROMs, e.g. Agrimach which contains data on about 40,000 farm machines. The employees write articles for the agricultural magazines, participate in experience exchange groups, hold meetings and give lectures at local farmers' organisations etc. Development The development work carried out at the Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre is targeted at both the advisory service and the farms. This way the advisers and the farmers get a comprehensive, professional and efficient basis to develop the individual farms. The advisers must have useful working methods, e.g. new computer programs which are capable of systematising knowledge and can be used for farm management and other tasks in the advisory service. For the farmers this work is a kind of product development of methods aiming to plan, manage and control farms and to improve the quality of the raw materials. Interdisciplinary co-operation is a precondition for providing modern advice. The Agricultural Advisory Centre carries out a number of development projects within a special projects unit consisting of employees from more national departments. Good examples of this are projects on green accounting, environmental and resource management as well as quality assurance in connection with complete certification and documentation of contracted production. Development work is also carried out within individual national departments and sections. An example is the development of specific computer software. Bedriftsløsning (in English: INTEGRATED FARM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM) is the name of a comprehensive computer programme for production
15 management on farms. Development of new breeding programmes, housing systems and advisory methods are other examples. The Advisory Centre has an International Department which markets the "Danish Model" abroad, e.g. in the Baltic states, Russia and Poland. Experiments and studies About 2,000 local field experiments are carried out in close cooperation between the local centres and the Advisory Centre. They provide information on the yield of different plant varieties and their need for plant protection and fertilisation in relation to variations in soil types and climates, to mention just one example. The results are available immediately after the growing season so that the experience can be used the following year. In all probability, we are the fastest organisation worldwide to communicate knowledge in this area, and we have much focus on assuring the quality of the experiments. In the field of farm buildings and machinery, farm tests are carried out among the users of different types of tillage equipment, barn equipment and farm biogas systems etc. The everyday work in the national departments also comprises some more specialised experiments: crops for non-food purposes; application of flax and hemp for insulation; scanning of muscle and fat thickness in lambs; alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters; and analyses concerning increased productivity and reduced costs all of these are subjects dealt with by different sections, of importance for the future production conditions of the farmer. In a project called "Model Farms" we collect production data from about 60 farms to be used for analyses and research. Education and in-service training The National Department of Education puts out a comprehensive production of textbooks and teaching materials for the basic education of farmers, and it organises agricultural education for children and young people. The publishing section (in Danish: "Landbrugsforlaget") has put out about 50 textbooks for the basic education of farmers, and it prepares teaching materials as well. The education and training of employees is planned collectively with the other national departments. The professional and educational contents are integrated in courses offered at in-service training schools coordinated via the AgroForum. Furthermore, the national departments have independent activities, e.g. professional seminars, excursions and experience exchange groups for advisers etc. Maintenance and service tasks The Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre handles many different service tasks for the advisory service collectively and also for the farmers; this is so both because it is expedient to have certain tasks placed within a central organisation and because the staff has the professional expert knowledge that is a precondition for solving these tasks. We prepare an annual nitrogen forecast which forms the basis for calculating fertilisation standards, and in co-operation with the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences we issue current warnings of plant pests in the growth season via the Internet. Other service tasks include milk yield recording of dairy cows, herdbook keeping and eartag administration for several livestock breeds, as well as potato seed control and export certificates. Several national departments have secretarial functions as well, serving e.g. breed societies, breeding associations and special-purpose committees that have permanent tasks to handle.